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How Social Media Becomes an Oppression Tool

Written by Joe Scudder

When the government can track you down, social media sites like Facebook can be used as an oppression tool.

Facebook has been used as an oppression tool… perhaps in every country where it operates to some degree or another.

But in Pakistan it was used to find and sentence a “blasphemer” to death!

Far from extending free speech in closed countries, social media has been used as a way to monitor, marginalize, and punish speech in some countries.

The Guardian reports, “Facebook was where Pakistan could debate religion. Now it’s a tool to punish ‘blasphemers’

“Until recently, social media afforded a measure of privacy where you could discuss the hypocrisy of people whose behavior was loathsome but who wore the thick garb of piety,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a prominent academic and activist.

“Now the state is saying that we will track you down wherever you are and however you might want to hide,” Hoodbhoy added. “Pakistan is fast becoming a Saudi-style fascist religious state.”


Ahmad Waqas Goraya, an activist and blogger, said that the standards for blasphemy had been lowered as the government used anti-blasphemy laws to crack down on dissent.

“What they now call blasphemy was everywhere before,” he said. “They use religion as a political tool. Almost all people detained have been critical of the state and the military.”

Note how easily that Facebook’s “philosophy” of “free speech for as many as possible” could be used to enforce and manage a fake “consensus.”

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has defended the company’s willingness to comply with government censorship requests by advancing “a single guiding principle: we want to give the most voice to the most people”.

In a 2015 Facebook post, Zuckerberg wrote: “Some people say we should ignore government orders requiring us to restrict people’s voice, even if that means the whole service would be blocked in those countries. I don’t think that’s right … If we ignored a lawful government order and then we were blocked, all of these people’s voices would be muted, and whatever content the government believed was illegal would be blocked anyway.”

Goraya, for his part, suspects that Facebook’s motives have more to do with its financial interests than in the “voice” of Pakistanis.

“At the end of the day, all they care about is their business,” he said.

Read the whole story at The Guardian.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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